Definition of devops harkens open core debates

When open source software was still getting established in the enterprise five years ago or so, there was a lot of discussion about so-called open core ripoffs. The concern was that anyone and everyone was proclaiming an association with open source software, even if most or all of their products were proprietary. Today, a similar debate has arisen about devops, a convergence of software development and IT operations for optimal speed, efficiency and other advantages.

For those concerned about misuse or abuse of the term “devops” — which has come to be positively associated with rapid releases, collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness rather than the somewhat rogue movement it was considered a few years ago — there may be some lessons in open source software that indicate the movement and the term will endure, regardless of the posers.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

Rise of Polyglot report is out

We recently wrote about a disruptive trend we are following along with cloud computing, devops and open source software in the enterprise. Our 451 Research subscribers also got a preview of our findings in a recent spotlight report.

Polyglot programming is the use of many different languages, frameworks, services, databases and other pieces for individual applications. The trend takes today’s developers and IT shops beyond .NET and Java to node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Spring and further still to Erlang, Scala, Haskell and others. Also in the mix are widely used API Web services, such as JSON, REST and SOAP, which are increasingly significant to building applications, as well as developer and user communities. There is also polyglot disruption present at the database layer with MySQL still being popular, but with ample use of the growing number of alternatives (NoSQL, PostgreSQL, NewSQL, etc.), including virtual and cloud-based services. Don’t forget today’s applications will likely pull in effective user-interface technologies such as Javascript, XML and HTML5, whether for internal enterprise, Web, mobile, consumer or converged audiences.

Although there is added pain in programming with multiple languages, benefits such as scalability, interoperability and concurrency increasingly necessitate it for optimal efficiency and quality.

Now we are pleased to present our latest special report, ‘The Rise of Polyglot Programming.’ The report investigates the drivers, disruption, challenges and opportunities from the trend. We also present market sizing and growth implications for polyglot programming, drawing on data and analysis from our Market Monitor service to show how polyglot programming will be part of a growing opportunity worth more than $35bn by 2015.

Contemplating innovation, openness, clouds at OSCON

The annual OSCON conference is and should be about open source, but some different conversations, companies and of course new code all make the show a good milepost to check what is driving open source, what the current debates are, who is winning criticism and praise and what is making open source matter most in enterprise IT.

This year’s OSCON was marked by some new ventures, companies and faces in and around open source. It also became clear after several conversations with vendors, developers and users that the biggest driver of open source software in the enterprise today seems to be innovation. What else would be driving open source? Well, when we asked customers nearly two years ago, the clear, primary driver was cost. Customers and users also rated flexibility as both a top driver of open source adoption and a benefit of open source after adoption. However, even then we saw a significant jump for factors such as performance and reliability when comparing driver of adoption and benefit from adoption. This indicated to us that the reasons for and advantages from open source software were shifting from simply cost-effectiveness and less expensive alternatives to innovative reasons that dealt more with capabilities, functionality. Time and cost will always be big factors, but it has been interesting to watch this transition, and OSCON appears to be a milepost that we’ve reached a point where innovation trumps other factors most of the time. We will be doing more research into open source software and what’s driving it, particularly in cloud computing, later this year.

Another major part of OSCON this year was the discussion and debate about openness in cloud computing. Microsoft introduced the idea of ‘open surface,’ indicating that openness in today’s cloud computing environment is less about source code and open source and more about SLAs, terms of use and contracts. This is an important and valid point and illustrates a question I’ve posed before regarding what is open enough? Still, we see the cloud building and stack components, which are almost completely open source, and it becomes clear that open source is a fundamental part of openness in today’s IT environments.

This is the role of open source software that I discussed when considering it along with open standards, open clouds and open data as the keys to openness in today’s enterprise IT.

We also saw another perspective on open clouds emerge at OSCON, and this time from a more organic source than the Open Cloud Manifesto that emerged from IBM and was received with some skepticism given it was a vendor effort. Instead the Open Cloud Initiative has been formed to lay out not technologies, not standards, but principles intended to keep customers, their software and their data open and free of lock-in, which has crept back up to the top of customers minds, particularly in cloud computing. While it benefits from having some true thought leaders in open source and cloud computing who work for powerful vendors, the OCI is focused on being a non-vendor organization. This is partly why it was set up as a non-profit, according to OCI board director John Mark Walker, who is joined by OCI President and Founder Sam Johnston and fellow directors Rick Clark, Marc Fleischmann, Shanley Kane, Sam Ramji and Simon Wardley, among others.

The OCI intends, with community input, to provide a legal framework for cloud computing vendors and users to come together on requirements that can be applied to products and services in the market. The organization has formed key principles around interoperability, user portability and standards that include copyrights, patents, trademarks and implementations. The idea is to ensure that cloud computing services are open enough for users to move among them without having certain parts of their infrastructure, applications or data locked or silod with a single provider or consortium. It’s an admirable effort and will hopefully add to the pressure to keep cloud computing open.

The future of cloud computing is the future for open source

I recently wrote a column about the lack of a cloud computing bubble, even though the hype and marketing levels around the cloud have risen along with innovative technologies and vendors. As we consider what’s next for cloud computing with a survey presented by 451 Group, North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOm, we will also be able to get a good sense of what’s next for open source software, given the prominence and significance of open source in the clouds.

Given our most recent efforts to track open source software in the enterprise, it is relevant to note that we see a continued, symbiotic relationship between open source and cloud computing. In fact, in many ways, the future of open source depends on the future of cloud computing and vice-versa. One of the symbiotic relationships between open source software and cloud computing is also one of the main reasons I believe both will continue to be a big part of enterprise IT and a big opportunity for vendors and investors: customer enablement. The lessons, practices and community of today’s enterprise IT that have been ushered in by open source – more transparency on the plans for products and code, more flexibility in working with both legacy products and software as well as newer open components, add-ons and combinations, faster development and fewer dead ends via vendor death, acquisition or strategy shift — are being applied to cloud computing. We also see evidence of this customer enablement in the makeup of today’s communities, both open source and non, which include both developes and users/customers.

I continue to have some concern about how open will be open enough, and whether that will truly be open and collaborative enough for these new, customer-enabled cloud communities.

However, I remain convinced that cloud computing may be opening up and, just like open source, is much more than a catch-phrase or hyped-up marketing term. It is central to the continued success, growth and innovation of vendors and users in the key categories I cover, including open source and devops.

DMTF highlights demand for cloud license management relief

The emergence of license management as a primary issue among enterprise cloud computing users, customers and providers was reinforced this week when the DMTF announced its plans to study and address a need for software licensing standards in virtualized and cloud computing IT environments.

We first saw the prominence of license management in today’s enterprise IT when we asked in December 2009 more than 1,700 open source users and customers to rank the sources of cost savings from open source. About 83% said software licenses, meaning royalties, provided cost savings. The next most prominent answer was license management, which was identified by more than 54% of respondents as a source of cost savings from open source. Other sources of cost savings included: maintenance contracts (which is similar and related in regards to this blog post), hardware, support, productivity and development.

Still, concerns and cost pains associated with license management are part of a theme that has been resonating among both customers and providers, and I believe it is among the primary drivers of open source in cloud computing. Open source is not only associated with cost savings, it is associated with greater ease and simplicity in licensing. After all, if you’re concerned about figuring out and paying for the cloud computing resources you use instead of taking advantage of those resources, you can always just use the free, unpaid software if it is open source. While there may well be similar licensing headaches awaiting customers of commercial open source software, the fact of the matter is open source does provide more flexibility and open source is no-doubt associated positively with cost savings, license management savings and general user empowerment.

We also discussed the importance of license management and related open source advantages when we highlighted the year 2011 for Linux. In addition, the work of the DMTF and the issue of license management also plays into our recent take on the pillars of openness in today’s enterprise IT landscape.

It also makes sense that license management and keeping track of what you are paying for in cloud computing would be a major concern for customers who need elasticity in pricing and instant ability to scale up or down without calling in the lawyers and accountants each time. Thus, vendors are walking the line between generating as much revenue from their technology and services as possible, but aso providing users and customers the ability to utilize cloud computing resources in a way that matches the technology – with agility, flexibility, speed, scalability and stability. Basically, if you’re gearing up for the tax deadline, or Superbowl or Valentine’s Day or whatever, you don’t have the time or staff for a license audit. At the same time, your cloud computing providers cannot simply allow you to use as much bandwidth and other resources as needed without keeping a tab. Just as the DMTF, we will continue to watch this issue and we are hopeful that the prominence and significance of open source software in today’s enterprise IT drives more open cloud standards, including those for license management.

The devops are coming

We are pleased to present our latest CAOS special report, The Rise of Devops, a collaboration with the 451 Group’s Infrastructure Computing in the Enterprise (ICE) service. The report came about as we continued to encounter evidence that enterprise application development and enterprise application deployment and IT operations were being pushed together. What we found is this trend is fueling some of the more innovative SaaS and cloud computing offerings and moves from companies where one might expect it — software providers, media, online investing, etc. Still, since devops, when done correctly, represents the realization of cloud computing benefits — increasing efficiency, infrastructure flexibility and organizational effectiveness — we also expect it to grow among more mainstream enterprise IT users.

Devops, the confluence of application development and IT operations, is being pushed by a number of factors, primarily: cloud computing, web and agile software development, open source software, automation and more. The trend, which is just in its infancy, is also facing significant hurdles, including technical, cultural and other issues, such as the need to keep dev and ops separate to simplify compliance and regulatory needs. As we’ve discussed previously, devops is also multi-layered, involving not just devs and IT system administrators/operations, but a number of other stakeholders, including business requirements, customer relations, sales, security and other personnel.

Some of our key findings include the fact that devops is happening and is poised for growth, that this growth is following a quiet but steady pattern we’ve seen previously with open source software and virtualization, and that faster
application release times, improved-quality software and reduced downtime are typically the biggest rewards.

The report is the product of our research, conversations and experience with devops, including participation in Devops Days. We also get a good sense of the devops experience in the report by looking at six devops case studies, which include organizations in Web 2.0, media, software and financial services.

One of the main points of the report is that devops is poised for significant growth. Since the proper and effective implementation of devops embodies the efficiency and elasticity of cloud computing, we have no doubt it will be felt across more and more of enterprise IT over time.

Do not confuse Microsoft IP with Linux

Microsoft’s latest intellectual property (IP) licensing agreement is once again raising eyebrows among Linux and open source software fans, prompting some to wonder what Microsoft may be doing with regard to Linux and open source software. However, let us consider how possible, or perhaps even whether possible, it would be for Microsoft to bring licensing or litigation to or against another company, whether a vendor or user of enterprise IT, that did not in some way involve Linux and open source software. The latest Microsoft IP deal, while indeed cause for some concern, is also further evidence of how pervasive and entrenched Linux and open source software is in all of IT, from smartphones and consumer electronics to enterprise servers, HPC and virtualization, to key verticals and cloud computing.

Linux and open source played a small, if not insignificant role, in the recent TomTom case, which was settled, but continued to concern open source supporters. Still, that issue may become irrelevant since the advent of a workaround to Microsoft’s patented and dated File Allocation Table (FAT) technology. Furthermore, as we saw following the TomTom lawsuit and subsequent settlement with Microsoft, there has been no impact on Linux in the embedded devices space. If anything, momentum for Linux and open source continues to accelerate here considering devices such as Google Android and Palm Pre smartphones, Intel’s $884m bet with acquisition of Wind River and continued strength for embedded Linux players.

I must admit, I was not familiar with Melco Group or Buffalo NAS technology, the vendor and product involved in the latest Microsoft IP announcement, which admittedly does make several mentions of Linux. Still, I cover Linux and open source software pretty closely, and neither were on the radar. Is it truly accurate to consider Melco Group a ‘Linux vendor?’ To me the term connotes a vendor of the Linux OS, or perhaps even stretching to a specialty provider that relies or focuses heavily on Linux. Melco Group seems no more a Linux company than any hosting company, telecommunications company, set-top box manufacturer, satellite TV service operator, printer maker, navigational device manufacturer, server performance vendor, HPC clustering specialist or cloud computing player.

This indicates it would be folly for Microsoft to attack Linux or open source software. In doing so, it would shut itself out of virtually all of the key IT markets — smartphones, navigational devices, automotive industry application, healthcare, telecom and other verticals, servers, HPC, virtualization, cloud computing, etc.

I would never say that Linux and open source software vendors, or anyone else, should not be cautious, judicious and pragmatic when dealing with Microsoft. I continue to have my own skepticisms and concerns about the company. However, I think we need to consider the idea that Microsoft is more interested in monetizing its intellectual property by licensing than it is in harming or fighting open source. There will be times that its intellectual property crosses over with open source software projects and vendors, which have evolved and matured to the point they are present in all layers, sectors and corners of our industry. There will also be times when there are no connections to any Linux or open source software.

Microsoft’s legitimate support of Linux and other open source software continues to grow, and there are certainly rewards to running on Windows. Supporters of Linux and open source should be able to take the compliment, the validation and the opportunity without alarms going off every time an organization that touches Linux or open source is involved in IP licensing or litigation. After all, tell me, what enterprise organization doesn’t touch open source software in some way today? This is further validation that Linux and open source have arrived and are here to stay.